The Stone Roses | Review
The SSE, Belfast • Tuesday 13 June 2017
By Neil Trelford (Author of The Youth Club)
Twenty-eight years after the release of the single ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, the four Manchester Messiahs emerge into a packed Belfast SSE Arena and the devout fans confirm that they are, still adored!
Mani’s buccaneering bass guitar intro already has the crowd jumping, leading the way for Ian Brown’s succinct vocals to coerce the crowd into an immediate sing-a-long.
From this beginning to the very end the crowd were in raptures. It was a night of not just Stone Roses blistering back catalogue but a night to savour some of the greatest Indie anthems of our time.
They never had a uniform look but were always instantly recognisable as a band of brothers. Tonight is no different, bass player Mani in a mod white jeans and paisley shirt, drummer Reni with his bucket-hat and Brazil-like footie shirt; guitarist John Squire with a somewhat distinguished beard with a high-end denim ensemble and the main man Ian Brown draped in his own ‘Fools Gold’ necklace and a t-shirt pronouncing his survival from the over-indulgent Madchester years, Own Brain.
John Squire’s swashbuckling guitar on the second song of the night, ‘Elephant Stone’ electrified the masses into continuing to sing along with their hero Brown.
The ocean-size songs ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Fools Gold’ kept the audience riding high on their waves. And when plastic beer cups soared overhead, drenching the eager floor revellers, everyone gets soaked in the intoxicating instrumental postscript of ‘Waterfall’. Its arpeggios drive a tense but romantic notion that still feels like 1989 and the arena crowd float quixotically in unison.
With two previous Japan shows under their heavy weight belt already this year, these street sluggers were fighting fit. And it showed, with Ian Brown’s shadow boxing and the punchy guitars they mixed in the recent 2016 single ‘All For One’.
It was a stealthy defiant provocation to the rest of world from the harmonic fusion of the Roses and their fans.
Brown was engaging and truly humble throughout this stellar performance, amplifying the eclectic bond of two way respect.
He doesn’t just reward his followers with the gift of his band’s distinctive timbre but bestows souvenirs of tambourine stacks to those lucky to pluck them from his casts between every song.
Blending in the tracks ‘Love Spreads’, ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ and ‘Begging You’ lifts their Second Coming album out of the shadow of their debut The Stone Roses and places it as an equal, well almost equal, nostalgic stalwart.
But nothing out powers the crescendo of the night.
The back to back single hits of ‘Made Of Stone’ and the Ian Brown satirically introduced “this one is for the Belfast ladies”, ‘She Bangs The Drums’ have the crowd in a full voice of musical youth. Every word sung with the passion and elation of everlasting memories.
The penultimate track was epitomised by a couple of travelling fans from Scotland when they described the sound, the crowd and the whole Belfast experience as being better than last year’s Home Coming gigs at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, ‘This Is The One’. It was certainly the one that they were waiting for and the seven thousand strong Belfast crowd wouldn’t disagree.
The ending is deliberate, a profound statement that nothing may ever be final. ‘I Am The Resurrection’, the final song on the first album that supposedly led to their Second Coming.
The lads take a bow like the cast of a seasoned Broadway Show and the delirious, drenched crowd, applaud.
It’s a momentary chance for us all to celebrate the mending of severed alliances, a beautiful recognition of everlasting and unconditional friendship and the realisation that ‘I don’t have to sell my soul, it’s already in me’.